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7th Mar, 2017 | 9:56pm

Attacker should be axed: Three things we learned about Newcastle in draw v Reading

COMMENT By Dominic Toner

Football Insider analyses three talking points from Newcastle’s 0-0 draw against Reading in the Championship.

Murphy should be dropped

Newcastle should axe Daryl Murphy from the starting line-up for the next game against Fulham. The 33-year-old attacker certainly put in a good shift against Reading and is a valuable member of Rafael Benitez’s squad. He had one opportunity saved from a headed chance and no one could question his work-rate. However, his team-mate Dwight Gayle should replace him for the next game as he has been more prolific in front of goal. Murphy will stay play an important role in the club’s automatic promotion chase, but is better coming on as an impact substitution.

Automatic promotion will go down to the wire

Newcastle’s goalless draw against Reading was a reminder that they have not yet secured automatic promotion. The chasing pair of Brighton and Huddersfield both recorded victories on Tuesday night and ensured that Benitez’s side keep looking over their shoulders nervously. The Magpies are just three points above second-placed Brighton, who are still a major threat under Chris Hughton. Meanwhile, Huddersfield are nine points adrift of them but do have a game in hand. The competitiveness of the Championship means the race for promotion will go down to the wire and Newcastle still have plenty of work to do, despite being the league leaders.

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Gamez proves squad strength

Newcastle defender Jesus Gamez was handed just his fifth appearance of the season against Reading and delivered a sound performance. The 31-year-old arrived in the summer after playing for Ateltico Madrid and Malaga, but has been on the fringes of the squad this season. The size of Newcastle’s squad was highlighted by the way that Gamez slotted seamlessly into the starting line-up. Rafael Benitez assembled a squad that should secure promotion to the Premier League and they look on course to do that. Gamez played well at right-back, with Vurnon Anita and DeAndre Yedlin not in the side. He may now be pushing for a starting position and will want to play a role in the rest of the season.

In other Newcastle news, the club’s fringe player claimed he came to make an impact.

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